Rusty Wyrick, accompanied by his girlfriend Tina Lomax, remade show truck Gone with the Wind with New Orleans-themed murals and details. Its new name is French Quarters.

John O’Rourke Sr. has spent his career setting an example for other truckers. The image-conscious O’Rourke always wears a tie and has been recognized by Overdrive as a Trucker of the Month and by the Truckload Carriers Association as an Independent Contractor of the Year. And he is apparently having an effect on his namesake, John Jr.

The New Jersey trucker, who hauls gravel and painstakingly washes the dirt and dust off his blue and chrome 1990 Peterbilt 379 daycab, owns one of three trucks judged Best of Show at the 2003 Shell Rotella SuperRigs.

“It gets everybody’s attention,” John O’Rourke Jr. says. “I like to show it off. It does a lot of work, too. I haul gravel in and out of quarries every day. I creep through, but it still gets a lot of dust and mud on it.”

The daycab, converted from a dump truck, has long wheelbase. Chosen for the 2004 Rotella SuperRigs calendar, the truck turned heads at the 21st annual competition held at the TravelCenters of America truck stop in Lodi, Ohio, in June. More than 90 entrants and hundreds of truckers and enthusiasts attended the show for working trucks. After three days of judging, O’Rourke finished third, behind second-placed Ohio driver Rusty Wyrick and first-placed California trucker Vlad Bilik.

O’Rourke’s father, who also entered his International in the show, says he and his sons (a second son also drives) enter a handful of truck shows every year. But having beautiful, clean working trucks is just part of the job. “I drove a Diamond Reo from 1973 until 1998,” says O’Rourke, who won an International Eagle as part of the TCA award. “That Diamond Reo still looks brand new.”

While O’Rourke placed third in Best of Show, Bilik’s black, orange and chrome 2001 Peterbilt 379 took top honors for the second time in three years, winning Best of Show and the People’s Choice Award, which is chosen by other entrants. Bilik says he’s only added a few exterior details to his truck since he won the contest in 2001.

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“I’ve put the suicide doors and the hood on remote control,” the Santa Clarita, Calif., trucker says. He’s also added a retractable license plate, a stainless belly plate between his trailer axles that matches one covering his drive shaft on the tractor frame, and a chromed kickstand to go with his hotrod theme.

Wyrick finished second in Best of Show with his Mardi Gras-themed Western Star. The truck features two impressive murals of street scenes in New Orleans, a demented jester on the hood and details, such as tiny masks, etched into the stainless steel trim. “I wanted a bright, powerful and colorful truck,” Wyrick says.

The truck is a past winner of truck shows under a different theme and name. “This used to be ‘Gone with the Wind,'” he says. “It took one and a half to two years to do all the work.”

Wyrick says the truck has a lot of mystique attached to it – two brothers did the old ‘Gone with the Wind’ mural and Wyrick employed two more brothers, Alberta, Canada, artists Dave and Al Thomas, to do his new murals. The trucker, who hauls furniture out of Mansfield, Ohio, doesn’t visit New Orleans regularly and has never been to a Mardi Gras. He says he got the idea for the street scenes from magazines and photos.

The show drew a number of unusual relics. Jim Conrad brought his 1919 White straight truck; it churned miles for decades at the Akron, Ohio, Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant before it was sold for scrap. The scrap dealer rescued it and sold it to Conrad 10 years ago. “I take it to a lot of shows in Ohio,” he says. “It weighs 10,400 pounds and has a top speed of 18 miles per hour.” The truck has solid rubber tires.

Conrad has 13 antique trucks, the youngest of which was built in 1929. Three still run, including the 1919 White, which he drove through for judging, even though the truck no longer works and therefore was ineligible for the contest.

Winners of the competition split thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. At least 13 participants were photographed for the calendar, which is due in December and will be mailed to Overdrive subscribers late this year.


Best of Show
1) Vladimir Bilik, Jr. / Santa Clarita, Calif. / 2001 Peterbilt 379
2) Rusty Wyrick / Mansfield, Ohio / 1998 Western Star
3) John O’Rourke Jr. / Hammonton, N.J. / 1990 Peterbilt 379

1) Sam Watson / Weston, W.Va. / 1974 Kenworth W900A
2) Rick Walker / Ft. Lupton, Colo. / 1953 Peterbilt 350-A
3) Larry & Kim Dyck / Winnipeg, Manitoba / 1987 Peterbilt 359
4) David Marcotte / Momence, Ill. / 1992 Peterbilt 379
5) Billy Baker / St. Catherines, Ontario / 1982 Peterbilt

Tractor-Trailer Combination
1) Mark Kienbaum / New Holstein, Wis. / 2000 Peterbilt 359
2) Brad Eaton / Hampton, Minn. / 2003 Peterbilt 379
3) William A. Sandvik / Valley Center, Calif. / 1998 Peterbilt 379
4) Jody & Laurie Laroue / Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. / 2000 Freightliner Classic XL
5) Jake Eilen / Hampton, Minn. / 2003 Peterbilt 379

1) Harvey & Karen Zander / St. Louis Park, Minn. / 2003 International 9900 IX
2) Shelley & Robert Brinker / Grayling, Mich. / 2000 Freightliner Classic XL
3) Brian Jones / North Brunswick, N.J. / 1999 Kenworth W900L
4) Mike Schoen / Median, Ohio / 1995 Freightliner Classic
5) Tony & Robin Bartels / Kahoka, Mo. / 1994 Peterbilt 379

Best Lights
Arthur Boisclair / Fall River, Mass. / 2001 Kenworth W900